Giving the Journey Heart and Soul

Everyone has been so amazing to me here at Strong Memorial Hospital this past week; my doctors, the residents, nurses, techs, and therapists.  Great to the point that we really don’t even want to leave.  Thank you all so much for sharing your stories and helping me recover so quickly!  I’ve had so much fun!  It’s going to take me a while to fill out all of the strong star cards.

Yesterday morning I woke up feeling great; I was rested, felt strong, and was anxious to show Shannon how well I was able to walk on my crutches.  She missed my first attempt with them the day before while back at Mom and Dad’s getting cleaned up, so she agreed to take a walk with me.  I’m starting to feel my independence come back to me in very small but crucial doses.

When Lindsey came by for physical therapy in the afternoon, I begged her to let me have a go at the forearm crutches.  As opposed to extending all the way up to the armpit, these just have a clasp at the forearm and are much shorter.  They are composed of only one vertical strut rather than two, and have a much trimmer and sleeker look than traditional crutches.  When I decided to have my leg amputated, I started to do a search for crutches to see what was out there and didn’t find much at all, but the best seemed to be forearm crutches.  I’m considering building my own with carbon fiber.

The comments I receive are so important to me; I find them extremely encouraging and they have been so helpful in keeping me in a good place throughout this challenging battle with cancer as it tries to take me piece by piece and limb by limb.  I keep my phone close, and read every comment as they come in and appreciate every word!  A couple of days ago I received one from Ramhead/Eric Larson stating that an old school acquaintance would be posting something special that they had put together for me in the studio.  Jacqueline, Eric, Jeff, Kelly, and Erica, thank you all so much, I was truly speechless yesterday and completely blown away by your video.  I was asleep when your comment was posted, Shannon and Mom immediately woke me up.  Jaqueline, you have an incredible voice.  It was so amazing to relive our adventure through this beautifully done song.  It broke me down to hear you singing “Ride, Ride, Ride, Ride in a Good Direction” while looking back at those early days of riding my motorcycle through Maryland.  I found myself thinking over and over again, man that was a great day.  Thank you all so so much!

Below are the lyrics for the song with hyperlinks to the associated blog post:

Pultneyville to New Orleans
Worlds colliding
What whiskey won’t cure, there’s no cure for
Mild, wild, Oh My God

Mild, wild, Oh My God

Today is my best day
And all my troubles they fade away
All my troubles they fade away

Ride in a good direction

Ride in a good direction

Yosemite in a different light
A whole different scale
With my fingers crossed
The Ginna crew
Friends like you
A tree like me
My entire family

Got the Night Hawk on the road

Got the Night Hawk on the road

Today is my best day
And all my troubles they fade away
And all my troubles they fade away

Ride in a good direction
Ride in a good direction

Reaching the peaks of Tahoe
Incredible sun
Fresh artichokes in Castroville

Keep it real on my zero day
Keep it real on my zero day
Mild, Wild, Oh My God
Got the Night Hawk on the road

Today is my best day
And all my troubles they fade away
And all my troubles they fade away

Ride in a good direction


About bhoefen

Going on a road trip.
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27 Responses to Giving the Journey Heart and Soul

  1. Cousin Mike says:

    Bret, you’re an absolute warrior! No matter what is thrown in front of you, you take it on with enthusiasm and make the best with what you got! Thanks for always inspiring me! Let it be said that nothing can hold down the human spirit–especially Bret Hoefen, who has “miles to go before he sleeps”. Ride on my man–ride on.

  2. Sherri Kennedy says:

    Bret –
    Unbelievable to see you move so swiftly on the crutches! I watched the first video and clapped outloud and shouted YEAH!!!!. My husband ran in the room to see what was going on…I said it’s Bret – he’s strolling down the hospital hallways. It brought tears to my eyes. Tears of joy. I cannot for a second wrap my head around the inner strength and determination you have.

    It looked like you liked the 2nd set of crutches better. They didn’t look as restrictive as the ‘old fashioned’ set. I bet if you put your experience together with your engineering mind you could design an awesome set!

    Keep up the good work. Thanks for all the updates of your progress. Everyday is making a difference in your ability to function. You’ll be on the road in no time!

  3. Sandy says:


    I read all of your posts and the comments that people put on your blog and I have to say that you are one of the strongest people I have ever known. I just wanted to write and tell you that you have a huge impact on a lot of peoples lives. I share your story with my children, Taylor 15, and Evan 8, and I think you help them realize what life is about. Its about exploring life and places and making time for the people you love. I just want to thank you for sharing your story with me and more importantly for sharing it with my kids. You are teaching them many important things and they have never even met you. They ask quite often if you have written anything more. You are a great inspiration to all of us!

    Sandy Hough

  4. Cousin Michelle, Mario, and Simona says:

    Wow that song is truly amazing and inspirational! Bret you are amazing and I continued to be in awe of all the people you have touched and inspired. You look great walking and we, along with everyone else, are so proud of you.

    • Cousin Michelle, Mario, and Simona says:

      PS- cant stop listening to that song… your friend is amazing. She sounds just like the lead singer of M People. Very special Bret.

  5. Julie says:

    To put it very simply…. thank you! Finding this blog and following your courageous battle has profoundly blessed me!

  6. Jacqueline says:


    It thrills me to know you enjoyed the song and see that you are having great days!
    I didn’t think to send you the lyrics, but I see you have understood them. I would just like to clarify some of your OWN words…I know you’re on a lot of meds! 🙂

    Yosemite in a different light
    A whole different scale
    with my fingers crossed
    The Ginna crew
    Friends like you
    A tree like me
    My entire family

    Stay in a “good place”
    (I’m gonna try to stop quoting you now before it gets too creepy)


  7. Nanette Hance says:

    Hi Bret … Am so impressed with your progress. Only you would do so well! I admire your determination and you continue to be an inspiration to all who know you … And for that matter, to those who don’t. Love the lyrics … what an honor to have a song about your experience that has taken you on a far different journey than you could have ever imagined. So proud of you and I pray for your continued strength and progress each day … step by step. We all continue to learn so much about life and living from you. Thank you for that very special gift. Love, Nan

  8. Judy Lynd says:

    Great to see you up and about! Keep up the good work…therapists love working with those who have a spirit like yours!

  9. Kelly Raile says:

    Bret, Glad I could be involved in with the song\video tribute and I’m thrilled you enjoyed it. Your blog has been very inspirational on so many levels. Keep up the good fight and please know you’re in our thoughts and hearts here in Virginia. ~ Kelly

  10. Debbie says:

    GO Speed Racer! GO!

    So many things to talk about today!

    When Shannon texted me earlier this week and asked did I know Eric Larsen (who posted and said he lived in Roanoke) I was perplexed and immediately started doing some digging. Find out, he’s good friends with so other musician friends I know so I contacted him through Facebook. He responded and sent me the link to the video. I was at work and while watching it, I cried and cried and cried.

    I immediately called Shannon and then texted her to see it on my FB page. Heck, I’ve shown it to everyone!!

    Eric has asked if I have any more pics of you and Shannon so they can do MORE I said I would help (with your permission of course!). Odd that they are here in Roanoke–almost like kismet.

    I’m so thrilled to see you looking happy in the the videos you posted. And I think making your own crutches sounds awesome. I’ve seen some of the same forearm crutches but I THINK I’ve seen some with upper bicep cups before too for extra support. I think?

    So very proud of you Bret–your strength, your tenacity, your ability to keep on fighting when others would have given in. You make all of us sit back and say “Wow–would I have that much inner strength?” I’m not sure even I could say yes.

    Can’t wait for you to be able to get home and start working on your project and for you and the gang to get back out on the road. Your story is soooo amazing and inspirational and deserves to be heard to give others courage.

    Keep riding in the good direction, Brother in law! We’re so proud of you!


    • Carol Huff Stanley says:

      Hi Bret/Debbie/ Eric, Betsy,

      My name is Carol (Huff) Stanley and I, too, live in Roanoke, VA. I put the Huff in there so Betsy will know who it is. Betsy and I were good friends in high school and I have been in touch with her by e-mail and hope to see her when I visit Livonia in July. I have written to her and have, at times, sent her my thoughts and prayers while daily reading your blog Bret. I have told her how inspired and impressed I am by the journey you and all your family and friends have been on.

      I had not posted any comments before this, but I had to comment when I saw Roanoke in your comments. I taught for Roanoke County Schools, until I recently retired, and currently live in the neighborhood behind Lord Botetourt High School.

      Debbie, am I correct that you live here in Roanoke? It would be great to get in touch with you. I, too, am on facebook. Maybe we could contact each other….But I do not know your last name.

      Bret, it sounds like you continue to make the best out of every situation and I know how proud Betsy has to be. I will continue to hold you all in my thoughts and prayers.

      I hope you get to soon continue your with your travels.

      Carol Stanley (Huff)

  11. Dan & Emily says:

    So, so proud of you Bret! You are incredible! Building your own crutches sounds like a fantastic project too!

    You’ve come a very long way since we stopped in to see you on Saturday evening. It’s really incredible the difference that just one week has made…. truly inspiring and amazing. Can’t wait to see you again with all of the progress you have made! Maybe I need to come up with a protein bar recipe for you…stand by 😉

    Emily & Dan

  12. Marianne Borrelli says:

    Brett You look fantastic… even in scrubs and hospital attire! Glad to see you up and around. Keep up the hard work. It will pay off!! Eat your asparagus!!

  13. Uncle Lee and Aunt Sharon says:

    We were awed by not one, but three new posts from you when I checked the blog this morning! You have certainly been busy – between writing your posts and posting pictures and videos, cruising around like a pro on your crutches, PT, OT and just plain recovering – WOW – that’s REALLY a full day!!!! You are amazing!!!!!
    First off, we were so thrilled to see you the other day and find you looking so wonderful! And especially after the PT session that you had already had, walking all over the unit. Seeing both you and Shanny with smiles on your faces and looking so upbeat was just what we all needed!
    Watching the videos this morning of you cruising all over with your crutches brought tears of pride and joyful smiles. You must have been exhausted after your lap around the unit, but the determination in your face says it all – ” I can do this!” And you did! In fact, at one point, we could hear Lindsey saying, “Oh, where ya goin’?” How about that – they already can’t keep up with you! And we’re not surprised – it’s hard to keep a good man down! There has never been any doubt in our minds that you would handle this latest challenge with all the determination, courage, grace and positive attitude that you are.
    Leave it to you too, Bret, the engineer and artist, to want to design your own crutches and already have a plan on how to do it! Pretty awesome for sure and maybe your design will even help others too!
    That was an incredible music video that Jacqueline and her group put together with your wonderful words and photos! Thanks for posting all the words so we didn’t miss a thing. So very special and what a wonderful surprise for you! You are touching more lives and making more of a difference than you can possibly imagine, Bret!
    As we mentioned before and so many others have agreed, your inspirational story deserves to be published to continue to touch those that need hope and strength. We hope you’ll consider it at some point in the future.
    We also hope that new pain management plan is successful in helping you be more comfortable and help make your mobility and PT/OT workouts easier. Be patient with yourself and remember that everyday will get a little bit easier.

    Your courage, strength, determination and grace bless us all every day, Bret. We continue as always to be so very proud of you. See you again soon (with brownies!)
    Much love,
    Uncle Lee and Aunt Sharon

  14. Christine says:

    It’s so good to see you up. You look just as strong and athletic as ever. You are awesome!

  15. Danielle West-Chuhta says:

    That song says it all, Bret! You are amazing….keep plugging….there is nothing you cannot do!

  16. Reggie & Mary Lee says:

    Amazing – you really move out on those crutches and it has only been a week – wow! You surely are riding in a good direction! At the rate you are going you will be on the road again real soon! We are praying & cheering you on!!
    Love, Reg & ML

  17. judy gratz says:

    An amazing song for an AMAZING MAN! Seeing you walking made my day! 🙂 You are an inspiration to all!

    Judy Gratz

  18. Kelly says:

    Wow what can I say. Where does your strength and determination come from?? As many of the posts say – you are amazing!!! You were cruizin’ on those crutches with such determination – good for you. Keep up the good work. 🙂

  19. Donald & Laurie Fox says:

    Wow. You continue to amaze and inspire us.

  20. scott says:

    Go Bret Go!!!! Thanks for sharing. Still following daily, the way you handle obstacles and diversity makes every trouble I face seem so small in comparison. By the way, Anthony Robles, the one-legged wrestler can do 100 pull-ups in 2 minutes, and runs a sub-8 minute mile on crutches. He uses the old fashioned kind for stability… He also jokes that he can play a mean game of hop-scotch. Humor truly is the best medicine! Stay strong and continue as always to ride in a good direction!!!

    Thanks for everything, you truly have no idea how much you mean to all of us!


  21. Erika Phillips says:

    I, like many others, have been witnessing your journey across the blogosphere. When Jacque told me of her aspiration to write a song, my first words were “do it”! I cannot express the joy it has brought me to see you conquer each new challenge with vim and vigor and a giant smile on your face! You are such an amazing soul and your words and courage have touched me and others so deeply that it has left a permanent place in my heart. I awake each day and eagerly check your blog for your posts. Thank you for the chance to ride with you on such an inspirational journey. I’m truly blessed to have been able to play a small role in bringing the video together to add heart and soul to your ride. Keep riding in a good direction and I enthusiastically await your adventures in Alaska.

    Much love,

  22. Laurie Sherner says:


    I have a huge smile on my face because I just read your post and saw the pics of you walking and it made me so very happy. You are an amazing person. I look forward to seeing you get on the road again and I will continue to cheer aloud as you get over each hurdle. Nothing is impossible!

    Laurie Sherner

  23. Jessica says:


    You are so brave to openly share so much of this journey with us. You look like an old pro cruising the halls on the traditional-style crutches… Those forearm crutches look a little trickier – I’m pretty sure I would have fallen over on those, but you sailed along by the time you got to the hall. It was so neat to see you use them for the first time and scoot SIDEWAYS to get by the chair! Unbelievable!

    Can’t wait to see your modifications to the crutches.

    With much love and a big smile watching you motor on your new mode of transport,
    Jessica, Joe, Abby & Jack

  24. Laurie Dixon says:

    I’m reminded of one of my favorites…

    “I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately,
    I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,
    To put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die
    Discover that I had not lived.”

    – Henry David Thoreau

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